How to Build An Ashtanga Practice

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Session 12 - Mechanics of Sun B - Coordinated Rooting

Once you get the mechanics of stepping up your front foot into Warrior 1, it’s time to add in the back foot. What’s that back foot doing?  Because there is a lot happening on this one breath, it’s important to coordinate and be efficient in your movements.


So while the front foot is stepping forward, the back heel is spinning down into place in line with the front heel. Ideally, they root and ground at the same time. That takes a bit of coordination and practice.


It is also important to remember that this is part of the process of building from the ground up. You will not raise your arms out to the sides and up until the feet are rooted and grounded.  Ahhhha! Now you know why you feel unstable getting into this pose! The stability starts in the feet and works it’s way up. You need to have that stability to continue into the pose. Pressing deep into the feet as you reach out through both arms and your head to lift into the full Warrior 1.


Practice coordinating this movement with your hands on a wall or chair. 

Step your feet back and press your hands into the wall/chair.

Step the right foot forward while you spin the left heel down in alignment with the right heel.

Step back and do it again on the other side.

Keep practicing this until it feels like you have learned the Mambo.


Then try it from Down Dog. Don’t worry about getting your foot all the way forward - do the dance move of stepping forward and spinning the back heel down - over and over again. Commit it into your muscle memory.


When you have it down, add in the arms.

Step the right foot forward while you spin the left heel down in alignment with the right heel. Reach arms out to your sides and lengthen your sternum forward to stretch/raise yourself to full Warrior 1.


Remember that Warrior 1 has specific alignment

    • The hips are DIAGONAL (NOT square to the front of the mat - Too Much pressure in the SI joints. Not good!)

    • Shoulders square to the top of the mat. (You start this with the transition to the full pose - lengthening and squaring shoulders to the top of the mat as you stretch/raise your arms)

    • Arms raised along ears (or eyes if your shoulders are tight or won’t go there).


Practice all these pieces slowly as you put them together.  Take your time and breathe. Be patient with yourself. You will build strength, flexibility and stability in no time.  You will also let go of other alignment habits and past patterns of moving into the pose.  Try not to just scramble. Be attentive and purposeful in the transition to this valiant pose.  Be the Warrior not the Worrier!

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